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Regulatory Intent for first 12 months of WHS Act – Darren Kavanagh, WorkSafe Commissioner

AusIMM
· 450 words, 3 min read

Western Australia has joined other States and Territories with proclamation of the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2020.

As the regulator of the WHS Act, I’m confident that the new laws will contribute to workplaces that are both physically safe and mentally healthy for all Western Australians.

It has been a long journey to get to the point where we now have contemporary work health and safety laws. The mining and petroleum industries are now operating under the regulator, and as that regulator I will be seeking to continue strong enforcement where necessary in mining. Clear standards will be established via thorough and timely investigations and clear instructions to industry on what they need to do in order to comply with the new laws.

A Statement of Regulatory Intent has been developed to provide the principles for the regulatory approach that WorkSafe (including general industries, mines safety and petroleum safety) will take during the first 12 months of implementation. I recognise that the new laws - including the requirement for a mines safety management system - are a significant change for some. However, systems for identifying, assessing and controlling hazards should already be in place because they were required under the previous legislation.

WorkSafe and WorkSafe Mines Safety inspectors will adopt a supportive and educative approach to compliance in relation to low-risk contraventions, providing duty holders have made genuine attempts to comply with legislative requirements. Enforcement action may still be taken where actions or omissions result in serious risks to workers or the community. If the contravention of a provision is similar to one under the previous law, enforcement action may be taken, which could include the issue of notices for which the recipient has the right to seek a review.

WorkSafe will continue to monitor the implementation of the WHS Act and engage with industry, employer and employee stakeholders. Where matters of high priority are identified during the first twelve months, the Statement of Regulatory Intent may be amended to aid in the successful implementation of the new laws.

The WHS Act requires consultation, cooperation and coordination between duty holders. If more than one person has a duty in relation to the same matter, each person with a duty must, so far as it is reasonably practical, consult, cooperate and coordinate activities with all other persons who have a duty in relation to the same matter. Elected Health and Safety Representatives will continue to play a pivotal role in developing and maintaining healthier and safer workplaces.

And lastly, let’s remember work health and safety is everybody’s business, so if you see a health and safety issue or an incident, speak up and report it.

 

Darren Kavanagh
WorkSafe Commissioner

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